The first time I laid eyes on Michelda Johnson was two years ago at an ART N SOUL event in Huntsville, AL. Ms. Johnson is the proud owner of Edible Arrangements in Huntsville. She has bragging rights of owning one of the very first franchise stores in the state of Alabama. Even then, during the poetry/spoken word event I could tell there was something very giving about Michelda's spirit. Art N Soul is an Alabama based group of authors, writers and poets, who share a common bond for the literary world. Art N Soul is considered a "power house" organization when it comes to promoting and marketing independent artists in the Southeast. For years Ms. Johnson has served as a corporate sponsor for a number of events for this group. This particular night she appeared to be exhausted, but I was struck by her commitment to not only support the group by writing a check, but by 'being present and connected.'
Michelda is petite for her size. She stands roughly 5 feet 4 inches tall, but casts a big shadow "socially and professionally." Johnson who has a background in nursing literally wears a "Wonder Woman cape!" Each day she swoops down and works 20 hours a day on everything from running two thriving businesses, raising two daughters and continuously sowing into her community.
Every now and then folks in "the Heart of the Valley" will watch her muster up enough energy to
run a marathon and play 18 holes of golf, (sometimes all in one day). She is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has helped raise money and awareness for everything from breast cancer to domestic violence.
|Photo Courtesy: The Huntsville Times|
February 14th, I watched Michelda somehow miraculously find the time to coordinate a schedule of more than 50 temporary/seasonal employees that included more than a dozen drivers. Together, they successfully arranged, covered, dipped, skewed and delivered, dipped more than 100 pounds of strawberries, pineapples, cantaloupes and apples to more than 2,500 customers like it was no big deal.
Last Sunday Michelda was asked to deliver an inspirational message to the youth of Pleasant Grove CPCA Church where John W. Jude and Pamela Jude are the Pastor and First Lady. My dear friend and colleague Jannifer Matthews shared this video link with me. I must confess, Jannifer's email came on a day that was more than challenging.
This incredible video link came at a time when I was fully doubting myself. Over and over, month after month I have found myself questioning who I am as I continue to pursue my dream of having my own multi-media empire. The day this video was sent to me I woke up asking 'who are you to try and do this outside of a traditional newsroom and without call letters at the back of your name?'
Michelda's video message (fire-filled sermon) came at a time when I was truly low and seeking a word, a "Rhema word" from God. I needed a confirmation to "stay the course," to not throw in the towel because that day, my savings and my patience were truly being tested. Nothing prepared me for how God would answer that prayer.
Before you press play: "first a warning." If you are like me and you think you know Michelda Johnson the businesswoman, brace yourself. You have seen the "glory," but you truly don't know "her story!" Michelda's raw, uncut, unashamed demeanor and testimony of God's goodness and "favor" in this video took me aback! This young, aspiring, minority business owner who has been praised as one of "Huntsville's Most Influential" by the Junior League and every other professional, business organization in North Alabama wasn't concerned about etiquette, decorum or being "prim and proper!"
Michelda delivered her message to the children of Pleasant Grove in a genuine and authentic way that can only be summed up as "real talk!" Let's just say I decided to check my email in the middle of lunch at Atlanta Bread Company in Huntsville and it wasn't pretty. I found myself crying, slinging snot and becoming "unglued" by her very words that pierce my spirit and encouraged me all at the same time. Folks, I'm telling you the "TV lady was getting happy down the bread isle today!"
To literally go from a "six-figure salary" to looking for pennies in Wal-Mart's parking lot? Really? Wow, what a testimony Michelda! I never knew and I would have NEVER guessed in a million years that you literally went from "homeless to becoming a successful entrepreneur with businesses that are blessed and truly "highly favored!"
Your message to the children empowered them, but it tore me up! It was life-altering lady. It came at a time when I was truly low and needed to hear from God. You truly confirmed for me what I've always suspected--that you truly are "fiercely feminine" and you make me proud to spell my name:
Jannifer thank you for such a special gift that not lifted my spirits, but reminded me of "who" and "whose" I truly am! God Bless!
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|Courtesy: Huntsville Chamber of Commerce|